Tuesday, October 10, 2017

NEW: Seeing, Doing, and Learning

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” 
― Albert Einstein

For some time now I have been trying to figure out what an encaustic collagraph is and how it is made. In order to understand this unique type of print I decided to take a weekend workshop with master printmaker Jeffrey Hirst. A group of my regular students were also interested in the opportunity to learn a new medium and we all spent the time together creating encaustic collagraphs.

"The Burren"
10" x 8" 
encaustic collagraph on Rives BFK


We each made three different printing plates, we learned about dry point tools, how to create layers on our plates by adding wax and then reprinting. We also double printed one plate after the other on a single sheet, allowing a detailed layered transparency to reveal parts of each individual plate within one single print. I was truly fascinated and excited by the layering techniques and translucent qualities of this process.  

All of our prints were on Rives BFK paper, 15" x 11" sheets using 10" x 8" acrylic plates. We used AKUA intaglio inks and experimented with several different coloring techniques. Hopefully I will continue to explore the medium and combine it with the creative muse I discovered and connected with in Ireland.

Ireland continues to be the key focus and inspiration for my new works. Repeating the same composition of the curving road, simplified, breaking it down to the core, reminiscent of the Irish landscape, is my way of paying tribute and remembering the Burren, County Clare.

More of my encaustic collagraphs from the workshop:



As I discover a multitude of ways to create the memories of this wonderful country I hope I will be able to tap into feelings of place and belonging.

"Emerald Isle"
30" x 24"
encaustic on cradled panel


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Art & Soul Journey, Ireland 2017

I just returned from a 12 day visit to Ireland. I attended an encaustic workshop taught by Lora Murphy and Kathryn Bevier at the Burren College of Art, combined with visits to historical and cultural sites. It was fabulous, and although I am still processing new painting techniques and gorgeous grey/green landscapes of the Burren in County Clare, I want to keep the memory alive. Ireland touched me, the landscape literally is a reflection of this ancient place. 

I created a brief slideshow of my visit, paintings to follow in the coming days.

video

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Studio Visit Magazine, volume #38


I have two paintings featured in volume #38 of Studio Visit Magazine, now available in galleries across the country (it's also available online ~ free ~ as a PDF file).

I submitted work last winter on a whim, and was pleasantly surprised when I received word of acceptance by juror Diana Gaston. Sometimes I doubt my impressionistic style of landscape painting. Much of my professional network on social media sites is inundated with abstract/contemporary/minimalist artists. Over the years the struggle with my inner critic, haunting me when I least expect it, forces me to re-evaluate what I am trying to do with my art and how I present it to the world (as an extension of my creative self). I am always working towards trusting my choices. This self doubt becomes an exercise that I have come to realize is necessary in order to nurture, learn, and grow as a professional artist.

Next weekend is my final summer festival exhibition of the season before I shift into teaching mode. The Evanston Art & Big Fork Festival is a three day event, combines fine art with fine food establishments and live music. It is important to me that I create an exhibition space that represents a cohesive body of work. Something new to my exhibition is the addition of natural wood frames.



I resume teaching both weekly classes and workshops in September at both Evanston Art Center and North Shore Art League. Before I am back into a weekly teaching routine, I am going to be in Ireland beginning of September, attending an encaustic workshop at the Burren College of Art, taught by Lora Murphy and Kathryn Bevier. I will embrace the opportunity to take what I learn with these two fine artists and see how I incorporate it into what I already know. Workshops are a luxury that I don't get to do often enough, and being in Ireland will certainly inspire a new vision for land inspired paintings.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Cup Overfloweth!

I just came back from a visit to Santa Fe, NM (first time being there). Since I've been back in town I have been painting with new ideas, revisiting older works trying to make them new again, embracing fresh energy and vision. It's been like a painting frenzy!

I fell in love with Santa Fe, I think this happens often to artists. There are loads of galleries on Canyon Road, but one has to wonder how they all stay in business. The combination of adobe homes, incredible hand made turquoise jewelry, galleries everywhere you look, the Georgia OKeeffe museum and home, all adds up to inspiration from a wonderful place with bold mountain vistas and desert.

"Doorway"
10" x 8"
mixed media encaustic


Below is a smaller version of the doorway combined with mountain and desert cactus. I have framed this as a triptych, each painting is 3.5" x 2.5", I call it "Santa Fe - scape".

One thing that surprised me was the overwhelming number of health and wellness centers, oxygen and cleansing bars, and a strong presence of the Buddha (along with other symbols of spirituality). I photograph Buddha where ever I go, and decided to use photo transfers fused into wax medium in the three new pieces below.

I have also been revisiting older paintings trying to make them new again. The Chicago cityscapes below were done when I first moved back to the city over three years ago but were drab with minimal color. I've added rainbow colors using pan pastel, and now feel like the paintings have some zing.



Currently I'm working on a mountain scene after a visit to Pecos National Historic Park. I hope to finish before my next and final art festival weekend of the summer. Show details here:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Travel Muse

Cliffs of Moher
County Clare, Ireland
24" x 36" 
encaustic and oil stick on clayboard


The past month has been a whirlwind. I finished teaching weekly classes, exhibited in 2 outdoor art festivals, and now have some time off. Participating in festivals allows me to see first hand how people respond to my paintings (not to mention allows me the best way to exhibit and sell my work).  It is exhausting to have to organize, carefully pack art, load the vehicle, then unload the vehicle, setup the tent and display walls, followed by displaying and hanging my work, and all that happens before the festival even begins! You really have to love what you do in order to find the stamina and enthusiasm to participate.

Wells Street festival

Art in the Village, setting up with my friend Kelly


At some point last month during the craziness of festival exhibitions I decided to travel to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in July. I've never been there and have always felt the landscape in the southwest to be a beautiful inspiration. I am curious to see the art galleries, but more excited to see the landscape, rocks and terra cotta colors.

I also decided to signup for a 9 day encaustic workshop being put together by 2 artists I have met at the International Encaustic Conference. The workshop is in September and is being hosted by The Burren College of Art in County Clare, Ireland. Five days of painting along with several days of touring in County Clare. A highlight for me will be seeing the Cliffs of Moher (painted above using various photographs).

Deciding to participate in this trip had a lot to do with two successful festival exhibitions, but it also flowed into my most recent interests in the history of 16th and 17th century England and Europe. I have spent "quality" time watching shows on Netflix, specifically about Henry the 8th and Mary Queen of Scots. I love when life, history, and landscape are an artistic muse.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Art Books

Pictured below, three of my hand made art books. The book pages are made of 100% cotton recycled deckled edge paper; front and back covers are cardboard covered with mixed media collage encaustic mono prints and watercolor paintings.

Middle book with wolf 7.25"x5.5"
Top and bottom books 8.5"x8.5"


Next week, spring term encaustic classes I teach end at both the Evanston Art Center and the North Shore Art League. At the end of a session, I like to teach how to create art using what may have been considered mistakes and turn them into something successful.... isn't the definition of art creating something new out of something else by altering, adding, and re-combining the materials? Sounds a bit vague, but this way of looking at the art-making process was one of the ideas I better understood after writing a thesis paper in graduate school.

From my thesis paper:
"The aesthetics involved in creating art is a reflection of the act of living. The art making process brings us fulfillment and pleasure from the individual process of creating something out of nothing. It is an expression of who we are and it amplifies the passions within each of us". 

These books will have collaged artworks inside each page, combined with poems I have either written or collected over the years (below left - Lotus book cover, below right - inside front pages of Lotus book).



 Sometimes I give art books as gifts, sometimes I make them for myself as an exercise of creative practices. Either way, I am always satisfied when I change what may have been a mistake into something successful and satisfying.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Color

"Conversations with Color"
30" x 24"
oil stick, encaustic on cradled birch panel


"Party Time"
7" x 14"
encaustic and watercolor collage


"Desert Cactus"
16" x 16"
mixed media on board


As evident by my newest paintings posted above, I have had color on the brain! The spring season is always inspirational to me, but I have been re-assessing where I want to be with my art which has led me toward abstract shapes combined with bold color and energized brushstrokes.

At home, I have been decluttering and replacing major furniture items with a simpler, cleaner look. As I often do, I changed the artwork in my living room to aid in the redecorating. "Conversations with Color" was created in order to add bold abstraction to the room and I am attached to this new painting, for now, but eventually I will include it in my festival exhibitions this summer. Being an artist has always had its advantages when it comes to decorating the walls in my home.

Also note - the large paper collage above the couch is by Nancy Thayer and the monoprint diptych on the right side of the wall is by Laura Moriarty.



The combination of encaustic medium with oil sticks has been instrumental in these new works, with a fresh awareness and reminder to use clean, bold color. I have been reviewing the R&F color chart below to make sure I have stimulating color combinations. Seeing color on a chart like this is helpful to me when planning a new painting.


Color and abstraction makes sense to me right now, in a world filled with chaos and turmoil. Kind of ironic, but art has always been the one place where everything always makes sense.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chicago Art & Design Show at Navy Pier

Art festival season will be starting a few months earlier as I am getting ready to exhibit April 8-9 at Navy Pier. Fortunately, this is an indoor show and my usual stress about weather conditions is not an issue. My booth setup will be altered with the addition of electricity and track lighting (lighting always enhances presentation), and I am excited to be demonstrating encaustic painting techniques during the weekend show.

Highlighted in my booth will be 50 paintings of Buddha, viewing this series as a cohesive body of work is key. The photo below featured 20 paintings from the series last summer, and only filled one side of my booth. I plan on presenting all 50 pieces on the two back walls in my booth, keeping this series separate from miniatures and cityscapes. Making sense visually is always a challenge, particularly when I have distinct bodies of different work.

Buddha wall from last summer:



Large cityscape paintings will hang on the outer wall (fortunately I have a corner aisle and can utilize both sides of the panels), and the miniatures will be on free standing panels toward the front of my booth display, separate from the back walls. I am sharing a few samples of work below.

Cityscape:
"Approaching Michigan Avenue"
30" x 30"


"LaSalle Street"
40" x 30"


Miniatures:
"Wrigley Field"
3.5" x 2.5" triptych, 12" x 28" shadowbox frame

"The Chicago Theater"
2.5" x 3.5", 10" x 10" shadowbox frame


The show is free and open to the public. For more information visit the Amdur Productions website link below.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

My newest book: Buddha

Buddha
paintings and meditations

Description:

"Buddha, paintings and meditations" is a catalog of eighty mixed media encaustic paintings depicting the Buddha. Each painting is high resolution, full page color, and unique.

"For me, the Buddha represents both the teacher and the student. Each painting was a lesson and exploration as I embraced various encaustic techniques, always trusting the process. I began to realize that although we appear different on the exterior, within one’s self we possess the same human potential."

Groupings of similar Buddha silhouettes are preceded with an explanation or meditation that led to the creative processes. This art book features a collection of mixed media encaustic paintings inspired by Buddhist thinking.
                 
 Magcloud version -                                                      

Amazon version -


It's been an educational journey, learning about self publishing and all the options available on the internet these days. Different publishing websites require different files, and until I had hard copies in hand I wasn't sure which of these websites offered the best quality paper, or if font sizes were in sync with page sizes, or if my book cover was attention grabbing, or if..... the list went on and on! Most importantly, I questioned if photographed encaustic paintings translated successfully onto paper. 

I don't feel art books are meant to be published as e-books. Maybe I am a bit old fashioned but when I want to see a colorful image I also want to be able to touch the page or better yet, see it in person. This meant I had to upload and order printed copies of the book from every website I used. 

The best two versions I have found to date are Amazon and Magcloud. Both of these websites average the same production and shipping costs, both offer copies on demand, although Amazon does produce books much quicker. The quality of the book was very similar from both websites, but if you hold copies side by side the Magcloud version feels slightly heavier, almost silkier (and I thought a better quality). 

The book is currently available on both websites and can be seen in links below.

Amazon

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Re-working Old Paintings (and making them new)




Which painting is the revision?
It can be a scary decision to go back into a painting that felt finished and successful at one point... and as time goes by our vision and skills develop and change. Hopefully we become more adept. 

The paintings on the left are the updated versions. Each of these has been reworked using shellac burn techniques. Wisteria (top row) incorporates organic texture with the addition of white, pink, and yellow ochre shellac burn plus I toned down the flower blooms. I also added twigs with wax medium to build up the canopy, creating lots of three dimensional textures.

The Red Barn (bottom row) has become a more dramatic and fluid piece, the addition of a shellac burn loosened up what felt like a very tight, controlled perspective of the vineyard. I have heard mixed reviews on the changes I made to this piece but I am much happier since revising and I have to trust myself!

In addition to reworking older paintings, teaching weekly classes, and preparing for upcoming exhibitions, I just completed an art book featuring the Face of Buddha series. You can preview and/or purchase the book here - Buddha, paintings and meditations

This is my second art book and allows me to share the full impact of an entire series of work. My first book, A Year of the Full Moon, can be previewed and/or purchased here - A Year of the Full Moon

Art is my safe, happy place. During times of turmoil and political unrest, the art world keeps me centered, stimulated, focused, and calm.